National Tiger Sanctuary
In the early 1990s, Keith Kinkade and Judy McGee set out to find a way to make a positive impact on the world. One day, they passed a big cat sanctuary while driving, and Keith insisted that they stop and visit. Even though they both loved animals, Judy was hesitant, because big cats were often kept in deplorable conditions 20+ years ago. They stopped anyway, and as Judy expected, the cats did not have much at all. The animals resided in small cages with concrete floors and no enrichment. Keith and Judy knew the animals deserved better and immediately offered assistance to the sanctuary.
For many years Keith and Judy provided funding to the sanctuary, and eventually, they were asked to serve on the board. Sadly, they did not see improvements for the animals despite their efforts and financial assistance. They knew it was wrong to support an operation that did not make the animals a priority, so they resigned from the board and withdrew their support.
Although their first attempt to help big cats was unsuccessful, Keith and Judy persevered and sought out another facility that was rescuing animals. They constructed new habitats, offered monthly financial support, and regularly cared for sick cats. As their relationship with the facility evolved, Keith and Judy discovered that this facility also did not have the best interest at heart. As a result, they financially arrived at the decision to found their own non-profit, rescue organization for big cats.
In 2000, Global Resources For Environmental Education and Nature (GREEN), DBA as National Tiger Sanctuary was founded. Keith and Judy had many important values they wanted to be at the forefront of their non-profit organization. First, they wanted to ensure that public education was a key component of our mission. They recognized education as a vital tool for improving conditions for animals in the wild and in captivity. Beyond education about big cats, they also wanted to teach about environmental conditions affecting the earth’s ecosystems and solutions that benefit all species of life. Without conversation of the environment, big cats (nor any other species) have a chance at long-term survival. In addition to a strong educational foundation, Keith and Judy aspired to build an organization that kept the animals’ needs t the forefront of every decision no matter the cost. Upon these two principles, preservation through education and exemplary animals care, National Tiger Sanctuary began.
Although it might seem like the hard part was behind them, the struggle of building a non-profit organization had just begun. The following decade presented many challenges – saving five sick tiger cubs, building facilities for them to live in, moving three times raising funds to afford their care, and the list goes on and on. Keith, Judy, and National Tiger Sanctuary had to overcome a multitude of challenges, and through their dedication to our animals and mission, all of those trials ultimately brought us to the thriving organization we all get to enjoy today.